Katsa lives in a world where a select few members of society are Graced with special abilities, and she is one of them. Sounds wonderful, right? It’s not. Those children whose eyes are two different colors, the sign of a Graceling, are sent immediately to serve their king. If the Grace is valuable to the king, the Graceling will stay and work for him. If the Grace is invaluable, say someone who is simply a fast swimmer, he is sent back to his family where the Graceling is avoided and feared. Katsa’s Grace is one of the worst; she is Graced with the ability to kill. King Randa, her uncle, uses her as a weapon against his enemies and she hates what she is forced to do for Randa’s sake. All Katsa wants out of life is control, control over herself and control over her Grace, neither of which she has. Until she meets Prince Po. Po is different from anyone she has ever met before. He is also Graced and his Grace is fighting. Po is the only one who can truly match Katsa when it comes to combat, but Po challenges her in other ways as well. Can Po help Kat regain control over her life, herself, and her Grace? And can Katsa help Po defeat an evil enemy who threatens to destroy all seven kindgoms?
Reaction: I finished this book last Thursday and it has taken me forever to write this post. First of all, it is really, really hard to summarize this book. Soooo much happens and a lot of it would be spoilery to talk about so I don’t want to mention it but then again I do want to mention it because it was sooooo good. I’m torn! I hope that made some sort of sense. Don’t worry, I’m not going to mention anything spoilery because I want everyone to read this book with no expectations as to what is going to happen so they will be able to fully enjoy it as I have. Second, I find it easiest to write reviews for books I don’t particularly like because I usually have several concrete examples of what exactly I didn’t like, but with books like Graceling that are just beautiful and that I love I have a much harder time putting to words what was so great. When I like a book this much it is more a general feeling of “that was awesome” then specific things that made it awesome. The whole package put together made it great and I can’t tell you about the whole book because you have to read it!
Moving on, I have to say that Graceling is exactly my kind of novel (other people’s too from the overwhelmingly positive reviews I’ve read). Graceling has a strong heroine who knows what she wants but isn’t exactly sure how to get it, and despite her Grace is a very loving and sensitive person. I loved the romantic elements. Very wonderful and tastefully done. They are an awesome couple. I really enjoyed the action/quest aspects. These parts in particular reminded me of McKinley’s The Blue Sword. And finally, the ending was just perfect. I’m not going to spoil it — I told you I would keep this a spoil-free review — but I have to say that I thought the ending exactly fit the characters. So, read it! That’s all I can say.
What’s Next: Fire, a prequel, and a yet to be titled Book 3 that is a sequel to both Fire and Graceling. Read about them on Kristin Cashore’s blog.
Read-a-like: As I’ve kind of already mentioned, Graceling reminded me so much of one of my new very favorite books, The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley.
Thanks: To Bookshelves of Doom for giving me the heads up about this book. Just as good as she said it would be!
Other reviews (or people who probably did a better job articulating their feelings about Graceling): Hip Librarian’s Book Blog, Abby (the) Librarian, and check out what people are saying about it on Goodreads.
Finally, Cover: I know, I’m obsessed, but did anyone else notice how both of the eyes in the sword on the back are the same color! That’s kind of a big mess up, isn’t it? The two colored eye thing was a BIG deal in the book. Oh well, the cover is still really pretty.
P.S. As you may know, I have a new obsession with booktrailers and Graceling has one but I am refusing to post it because of its high cheese factor. It reminded me of a very low budget 80s romantic action flick. If you are still interested in watching it, it is posted on the Amazon page but don’t say I didn’t warn you and please do not judge this book by its booktrailer.